Minco Eggersman ‘Kavkasia’ (Volkoren) 5/5

Minco Eggersman, a drummer by original trade, has over the years developed as a musician from singer-songwriter at the crossroads of Americana and Alternative, into a soundtrack composer for film. Whatever the genre or field of musical pursuance however, one cannot fail to hear his heart in the music that he makes.

“Kavkasia” was born from a four-wheel drive trip that Eggersman and his wife took into Georgia. The resulting music on this album is stunningly beautiful and perfectly reflects the search for beauty, fortitude and rest, deep into the Caucasian mountains. The rugged, broken landscape, in which each sound and every impression pervades one’s very pores, landed him a mixture of humility and comfort.

The music throughout this recording is minimalistic in nature, yet really captures the imagination in a spellbinding way. Ambient, atmospheric, spiritual, touching, graceful, enlightening and richly rewarding, Eggersman’s “Kavkasia” breathes with its very own life and passion, evocatively filling the heart with gentle contemplation, whilst refreshing the soul with a joyous, ethereal sense of belonging.

How often does an album come along that is just so different…in such a good way? Very rarely. I can hear such a breadth of musical influences in the composer’s music, but this is perhaps something that every listener will find- each in a different way. For me, there are hints of Brian Eno, Jan Garbarek, Talk Talk, John Martyn, Robert Stillman… a subtle blend of contemporary classical, ambient, jazz, folk, experimental…I could go on. But essentially, every listener will hear something different – this doesn’t matter. What matters is the music itself. Immerse yourself in it and you’ll get lost in its beauty, it’s as simple as that.

The album begins with “Hidden In Clouds” with its soft piano and gorgeous hovering strings that rise and fall, leading into “The Crossing Place” with its solo East-meets-West sounding viola, driven on by a beating heart with lush strings and subtle electronics gracefully touching one another as the tune’s beautiful melody breaks through. The music is largely instrumental, but “Dance” gives us the first vocal track. Acoustic guitar and orchestra offer the backdrop to this stunning piece of music. The vocal delivery sits somewhere between Eno and Talk Talk, with the incredible choice of harmony on the chorus reminding me very much of an early 70’s David Gilmour on Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”. It’s melancholic yet uplifting all at the same time. “The Black Sea” is like a harmonic version of the trumpet voluntary. Very simple, but as with all of this album, so exquisitely executed in a wonderfully musical way. If John Martyn (in thoughtful, instrumental mood) had met Jan Garbarek (in sparse Nordic mood), then “Holy Ground” would have been the resulting piece of music. Incredibly moving. “The Other Side Of Dawn” could be an Enio Morriconi composition from a pseudo Spaghetti Western. Its jangly guitar and rousing orchestration pull on the heart strings and create the mood of a surreal final act as the juxtaposed imagery of the beautiful mountains clash with the harsh reality of the gunslinger’s dust-laden hard-set features. The church bells and organ of “Stepantsminda” make for a splendid, life-affirming statement as they journey into a lone, classical Indian voice on “Melisma & Gurian”, a tune that is perhaps reminiscent of the skillful musicality and production of Nitin Sawhney. This blends effortlessly into “Deda Ena” as the voice floats and drifts in and around acoustic guitar and strings. The longest track on the album, “Tbilisi Calls” takes the listener right into the heart of Eggersman’s journey, shining a light on how the natural landscape and a musician’s vision can come together in a mix of graceful creativity. “Mount Arafat” features voice, piano, bass and strings, and has a lovely deep, meaningful feel to it that is like a release of spiritual energy, as the final tune “Home Of The Brave” lifts the spirits once more.

“Kavkasia” is Minco Eggersman’s wonderful musical journey, yet in many ways it is a shared experience as it is one of those albums that lets the listener in as the music surrounds and embraces with its own landscape and tales to tell. Immerse yourself in it now.

Mike Gates